Gerry McGovern bio image.

From users to customers | Gerry McGovern is a terrific newsletter/post.

He nails it when he describes how the user in an enterprise context is the last and least of the stakeholders in the acquisition of a CMS, CRM or other business platform. Such software is essential to the modern business and its evolving digital workplace, he provides the context for why productivity, adoption and governance — change management—are virtually impossible to achieve.

The short answer he offers is that the decision-makers in these large and complex software buys, the senior manager—or group of senior managers—responsible for signing off on the budget for the purchase of the technology, are customers that never actually use the software. “They don’t deliberately set out to buy unusable software for their employees. It’s just that they don’t care much either way whether it’s easy to use or not.”

Having been involved in many enterprise projects in which there is a complete disconnect between the executives and the users, his characterization of the process made me laugh:

There is often a mutual loathing between the technology vendor and the customer. The vendor feels that the customer is clueless, that they just spew out feature lists, That, while they talk about simplicity, they will always buy the sexiest, most complex, feature rich, weighed down by as many bells and whistles thing, and latest, coolest gizmo that they can possibly find. And that they want it all at crazy low prices.

The customer feels like they’re trapped in a horrible relationship because of all that legacy stuff. They feel that whatever price they are initially given, they will ultimately pay three times more. And most of them think that it just won’t work anyway.

This corrosive atmosphere thrives because nobody cares about the ‘user’. …

His answer is that the new model makes the customer, the person who uses the product or service, the center and focuses on use.

This is a theme he has been developing for years in his research and writing. One of my favorites is Why do organizations hate their content management system? | Gerry McGovern (2013).

In other essays, McGovern has developed his customer-centric thesis in part by emphasizing what people actually need by studying the tasks they perform and how systems can assist them. Top-task management is a methodology developed by Gerry McGovern to improve and optimize websites.

Gerry McGovern‘s weekly New Thinking newsletter is an excellent read at 500 words per.

WordPress Toronto Meetup (WPTO) banner image.

This “lecture” was Jacques Surveyer‘s basic sales pitch for WP newbies on the reasons he believes make WordPress a compelling proposition for small business owners.

I need to start a page to collect and document the things on which I could ask for help such as the pending domain name change and folders vs categories and retrofitting folders to organize images in Media Library.

I realized that the the 26% WordPress market share figure doesn’t take into account the number of pages by CMS. There are a lot of WP sites but many are likely to be small. One enterprise SharePoint site could easily have a million pages. (I thought I had documented the stats but I couldn’t find anything.) I couldn’t find the chart used by JS. See Usage Statistics and Market Share of Content Management Systems for Websites, October 2016 and then see Can You Trust BuiltWith, W3Techs and Software Usage Statistics?.

Check out WordPress | Kijiji and WordPress jobs | Kijiji Classifieds. JS mentioned how easy it is to find WP talent.

Several people expressed the feeling that they were being held hostage by their lack of technical knowhow in WP. The WP pitch of fast, cheap and easy (like SharePoint) attracts people who then feel overwhelmed, frustrated and dependent on people for work they don’t understand but think that they should. Feelings of inadequacy. This is a worthwhile topic to develop.

JS thinks that SEO and site promotion are now one of the 3 categories of work in a site. The other 2 are content creation and updating and site operations and performance tuning. He thinks SEO is the number one problem people have with their sites (i.e., traffic). He categorizes Beaver Builder as a content creation tool. He thinks its fine to use for authoring pages and posts.

I realized that HTML and CSS are essential skills for both WP and content on any CMS.

Should I go multisite so that I can create test and/or lab sites, client prototypes and a CRM or another specialized one.

Multisite is a feature of WordPress 3.0 and later versions that allows multiple virtual sites to share a single WordPress installation. When the multisite feature is activated, the original WordPress site can be converted to support a network of sites. S: Multisite | Codex. Create A Network | Codex is the key page and provides instructions for a manual install.

I wonder whether free themes are all that useful outside of novices and hobbyists because of their limitations. This is another aspect of the easy, fast and cheap — yes, but with limitations and caveats.

I should move to SiteGround in November. JS has persuaded me that the new managed services providers are better than generic ones especially in speed (SSDs). Plus the cost is much less for the first year than I will be paying Sibername, the host I’ve used for 6+ years. My experience with Sibername has been excellent but they’re not competitive with managed services providers.

In the JS pitch, plugins play a big role. However, there are caveats:

  1. how many of the 45k aren’t maintained (50% or more?)
  2. reviews are not helpful and ones like Theme Switcha have none (so far)
  3. many plugins poorly documented in part because many developers are virtually illiterate or non-English
  4. bait and switch is is the feeling you get from some of them

Smart Slider 3 | WordPress Plugins (50k), Smart Slider 3, $25/100. JS recommended.

Nothing to speak of on theme selection. The key criteria are:

  1. business requirements
  2. skill level, technical capabilities
  3. budget
  4. timing

Sites start out as publishing platforms and then evolve:

  1. primary customer interface
  2. key marketing and sales vehicle (digital marketing)
  3. then as a DW

The hosts he recommended were:

  1. TMD Hosting
  2. InMotion Hosting
  3. A2 Hosting

I looked for the plugin that displays shortcode in the editor and couldn’t find it. I found the following in the process. Edit Screen Shortcode Lister | WordPress Plugins (100) displays a list of all the shortcodes available for use on the post and page edit screens. In that way, you don’t have to remember all of the shortcodes available to use. Display Posts Shortcode | WordPress Plugins (70k) is for inserting content in a post. Shortcode Reference | WordPress Plugins (800) does the same thing.

While working on this, it occurs to me that the way in which consultants and developers organize and manage technical information isn’t something people talk about or document. How do you keep track of themes, plugins, tools, etc. so that you can find them when you need them. Do you use WP for this? Should you?

What are the issues with page builders?

  1. they’re not as simple as they appear and often have cryptic aspects
  2. tech lockin
  3. desktop publishing experience (chaos, overuse; how much does Word improve your writing?)

The advantages include:

  1. less tech knowhow but still some
  2. agile development especially with WYSIWYG
  3. pages designed for specific business purpose and potential for structured content

JS recommended the SiteGround CSS styler plugin editor:

  1. SiteOrigin CSS | WordPress Plugins (“We’re committed to keeping SiteOrigin CSS, free.”)
  2. CSS editor | SiteOrigin

Other plugins recommended:

  1. WP Edit | WordPress Plugins (100k; compatible with TinyMCE 4 and replaces TinyMCE Ultimate as of WP 3.9); WP Edit Pro ($17.50 and up)
  2. Spam Protection: Spam Protection by CleanTalk (no Captcha Anti-Spam) | WordPress Plugins or SPAM Protection and Anti SPAM | WordPress Plugins?)
  3. WP Analytics (WP Analytics Pro | WordPress Plugins (90)?)
  4. Cyclone Slider 2 | WordPress Plugins (80k)
  5. Greg’s High Performance SEO | WordPress Plugins (20k)

Tags: , ,

This post is a follow-up to the Meetup event to which I referred in my Beaver Builder plugin and theme demo with my site at the 2016-09-03 Meetup post.

Jacques installed the Headway theme from Headway Themes (Vesped Inc.) along with the Beaver Builder page builder plugin and the CSS Hero visual CSS editor plugin.

That caught me off guard as I was expecting and had prepared to use the Beaver Builder theme.

As it turned out, I found the Headway theme v4 to be an excellent choice and got underway learning how to use it. The more I learned, the more I saw the value of this framework.

Everything was going well until I read the Headway Theme’s Future is Uncertain Amidst Financial Troubles | WordPress Tavern post and the Headway Themes (warning: do not buy) | Reddit thread. Then a colleague told me that he thought that v4 was being rolled back to a beta and that he was disappointed in theme’s support. He said he regretted buying the theme. That didn’t kill it for me but it put a dent in my confidence in it.

Now I’m evaluating another combination, the one recommended by Colin Cartwright in The Dynamik Beaver‘s about page; namely:

  1. Genesis Framework | StudioPress
  2. Dynamik Website Builder for Genesis, a premium Genesis child theme, and
  3. Genesis Extender Plugin, compatible with all Genesis child themes

More to follow.

Updated 2016-09-16.

In preparation for Jacques
‘s WordPress Demos, Tips and Tutorials | WPTO Meetup on 2016-09-03 (Saturday), I drafted some text, collected a set of images, created several pages and found examples of pages I liked and wanted to use as a model.

Beaver Builder plugin product icon image.Briefly, my humble site is a demo site for the Meetup. Jacques will install the Beaver Builder plugin, Beaver Builder theme and the CSS Hero plugin. Then he will build a new home page using the text and images I have prepared.

I appreciate Jacques assistance and the two plugins and send a thanks to Colin Cartwright for contributing the theme.

My preparatory tasks consisted of:

  1. a draft of the new home page Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters! text
  2. a set of images
  3. a list the pages which are similar to the one I have in mind
  4. add a plugin to put the site in maintenance mode
  5. backup the files and database as usual
  6. create an admin login for Jacques to use for the work

I selected the most popular of the several plugins, WP Maintenance Mode | WordPress Plugins. It was easy to configure. I worked out the page’s text in a few minutes. I turned on the timer feature.

I added the images to the Media Library. My first thought had been to upload the set to Google Drive or Dropbox but then realized that they would end up in the Media Library in due course. It’s easier to delete the ones not needed than to add them one by one during the demo.

To describe the new home page design I want is difficult in text so the following are examples to analyze, deconstruct and

  1. Electrical Web Solutions, About
  2. WordPress Page Builder Plugin | Beaver Builder
  3. Copyblogger – Content Marketing Mastery
  4. Rainmaker Platform
  5. Mautic, Products |

Second version:

  1. Parallels
  2. Diverse Website Strategies, the developer of WordPress Office 365
  3. Thrive Services

This is going to be a blast.

WordCamp Toronto 2016 banner image.

When I read the Seth Godin quote in Andy McIlwain’s
Content Creator’s
page, I said to myself “Wow, that’s me.”

I looked at the variety of things I’d written in the last few
weeks and realized for the umpteenth time that it was a treasure trove and that
I must resume publishing in earnest.

I can’t imagine a quotation or precept more applicable to me
than that.

I’m chagrined.

On the other hand, I recognize and derive great
solace from the fact that this is endemic to all creative activity. In short,
everyone fears ridicule, disappointment and criticism. “Shipping” is an
invitation to all three.

Moreover, where the deadline is arbitrary, the fear is

The best way to overcome it is …. well, there isn’t a way.
It’s a condition and overcoming it today has no real likelihood of reducing it’s
incidence tomorrow. The only thing that can be accomplished is to blunt its impact
through repetition. Shipping leads to more shipping which leads to more shipping
and so on. You see what I mean.

Richard Harbridge is a SharePoint expert whose presentations are superb in both their technical and educational qualities. He has technical expertise that he can deliver in a compelling and understandable fashion.

Granted, a PowerPoint slide deck is a poor representation of a person delivering a presentation. Still, it gives you an idea of his thinking process. So I can recommend his Is SPFest Chicago one, Your SharePoint Healthy? What's The Right Prescription?.

Apart from its value on the topic itself, the presentation is an excellent example of a key promotional technique for consultants. It offers a diagnostic technique that enables you to evaluate your SharePoint facility. In doing so, it describes a service that Richard offers as well as represents the kind of work that he does. It's a soft sell and very effective.

I attended a day long workshop on information architecture that Richard conducted with Ruven Gotz at the SharePoint Summit 2012 in May about which I intend to write in October — stay tuned.

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This post marks my return to active WordPress blogging n the occasion of the WordCamp Toronto 2012 event.

Taking my own advice — the best way to write is to just start writing — I will get going with this post and continue with posts on some of the things I found noteworthy at WordCamp this year.

In reviewing the WordCamp schedule, I see the three streams and their lists of sessions and the page with the individual sessions but no schedule that shows all the sessions so that they can be compared and sessions from each stream selected. In other words, the table listing the sessions (rows) by streams (solumns) is missing.

Otherwise, I like the site and its clean and well-organized layout. The speakers are given the prominence they're due and the featured ones is an effective promotional technique.

So far, so good!

More to come ….

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This post is the text of a presentation to the 2010-12-04 session of the WordPress Toronto Meetup group. Note that the local links do not work (yet). I will either fix or remove them by 2010-12-06 (48 hours).

Tags and categories presentation

WordPress Toronto Meetup 2010-12-04

Robin Macrae (

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David Brooks, New York Times

In Western Men Are Doomed, David Brooks expressed the opinion that Western linear thinking was less valid than the Asian contextual and associational style.

I found the following excerpt to be something worth pondering:

Asians place emphasis on context while Westerners place more emphasis on individuals. This seems like a gross generalization but it is robustly supported by hundreds and hundreds of studies. Richard Nisbett’s book, The Geography of Thought summarizes some of the evidence.

If you show Americans a fish tank, they’ll talk about the biggest fish in the tank. If you show Asians a tank they will make, on average, 60 percent more references to the context and the features of the scene. Western parents tend to emphasize nouns and categories when teaching their kids, Korean parents tend to emphasize verbs and relationships. If you show Americans a picture of a chicken, a cow and grass, they will lump the chicken and the cow, because they are both animals. Asians are more likely to lump the cow and the grass because cows eat grass. They have a relationship. The mode of thought more common in Asia is better suited to the complex networks that make up the modern world. The contextual, associational style is simply more valid. The linear style we’ve inherited from the Greeks is less adaptive toward the modern age. I think the West may be doomed. Source: Western Men Are Doomed, a NYT Opinionator | Exclusive Online Commentary blog post by David Brooks and Gail Collins.


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